Prosecutions

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NSW: Bad example leads to serious injury and fines of $270,000

A NSW company and its director have been convicted and fined a total of $270,000, after a worker suffered catastrophic injuries climbing out of a vehicle in the unsafe manner regularly used by the director.

Banana's Truck & Tipper Hire Pty Ltd (BTTH) and sole director David Monk argued their culpability was reduced by the fact that Monk did not direct workers to climb in and out of a truck's large bin over its sides. However, NSW District Court Judge David Russell said BTTH employees had seen Monk similarly accessing the truck's tray and bin when the tray's back gate was closed.

"If the boss is doing it that way, he is in effect demonstrating how the workers can access the bin," the Judge said.

In February 2017, a BTTH crew attended a property in Asquith, NSW to cut down and remove a palm tree. The worker had just finished trimming the tree from inside the bin when he attempted to climb out and fell, landing on the back of his head on the road three metres below. 

The worker was airlifted to hospital where he was treated for a skull fracture, broken rib, collapsed lung and a torn spinal cord that resulted in permanent paraplegia from the waist down. In sentencing the defendants, Judge Russell said the lives of the 37-year-old worker, who now needed a carer to assist with his daily needs, and his family had been "forever blighted by the catastrophic injury which he suffered at work".

Judge Russell fined BTTH and Monk $225,000 and $45,000 respectively, after 25 per cent reductions for their guilty pleas, plus the prosecutor's costs. The parties agreed Monk should pay $25,000 in costs. Source: OHS Alert

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